Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Great Gatsby - Tues., May 14

Well, now. The Great Gatsby rates three-and-a-half out of five stars in my movie-viewing mind. The reasons I'm rating it so highly are the gorgeous, lavishly done sets and filming, along with some inspired acting, and moodiness. Baz Luhrmann is a master at creating atmosphere, as you recollect if you saw Moulin Rouge.

Having never read F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel, I think I lost the story in there somewhere. Unless the story is one man's devotion/obsession with a woman (Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan), then it was very clear.

Mystery and rumors surrounded Gatsby. Where did he come from? Was he really in the war? Did he attend Oxford University? Who is he? Is he a mobster? Bootlegger? Poseur?

Along the way, the Roaring '20's New York and Gatsby's parties in West Egg entertain, although they are a bit over-done. (I did not see it in 3-D because I didn't think it was necessary. The beautiful colors, parties, and scenes worked just fine without 3-D.)

As for more atmosphere, the scenes in Valley of the Ashes with the overarching billboard for Dr. T. J. Eckleburg portend menacing scenes. Adult themes prevail. Expect to see adultery, wild parties, excessive drinking, death, deception.

Tobey Macguire, as the narrator (Nick Carraway) and Gatsby's friend, is exceptionally good. Leonardo DiCaprio is a genius piece of casting. I have not seen all of DiCaprio's movies, but of the ones I've seen, this is definitely his best leading role, yes, even over Titanic. In the scene where he has it out with Daisy's husband, he epitomizes the hurt and ugliness spurred by bullying which results in the release of pent-up rage. Quite an acting moment.

How does it rank compared to 1974's The Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow? All I remember about 1974's version is I thought it was very boring and slept through part of it. I do not remember the 2000 version with Mira Sorvino and Toby Stephens at all, so I probably didn't see it.

If you are an F. Scott Fitzgerald fan, definitely see this movie. All around me in the movie theater after the show, I heard people saying how much they liked the movie. Tobey Macguire as Nick narrated much of the movie directly from F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel and the words flowed across the screen in some scenes.

At 142 minutes, you'd think the movie would become stultifying, but it is so effective in its mission and the entertainment value that I didn't fall asleep or get bored. I didn't think it was foolish or ineffective. All parts combined to make the movie watchable, even if over the top. But then, weren't the Roaring '20's a bit over the top?

Welcome to Shoeless Joe who writes the blog Travlin' with John. I'm so happy to see you here!